Bjorn again the victim as winds and nerves hand title to Ferrie

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The Independent Online

The once roly-poly Geordie has lost four stones in a year but his mouth has never been as wide open as when winning the European Open yesterday. "Never in my wildest dreams did I think that three under would be enough," said the 26-year-old from Ashington after collecting his second European Tour title.

"I saw what Thomas was doing on the 17th when I was in the locker room, but although that put me in a great position, you wouldn't wish that on anyone."

Not even when it nets you a cool £384,000, a rather satisfactory ending to a week that began when Ferrie qualified for the Open in a fortnight's time, coming through a five-man play-off at Sunningdale on Tuesday morning for the last spot with a 40-foot putt. "That was fantastic but this was something else, being seven behind at the start of the final round," he said. "I knew it was possible but didn't expect a 70 would do it."

But he hadn't reckoned on Bjorn, who had squandered shots so badly on his first 16 holes that by the time the 34-year-old stood on the par-four 17th tee he was two under - six over for the day - and sharing first place with Ferrie. Fifteen minutes later, Bjorn was five over - 12 over for the day - and in a tie for 30th while Ferrie was home and most definitely dry.

How did Bjorn manage that? Well try this: a drive into the Liffey on his first shot, a penalty for his second, another into the famous Dublin river for his third, a penalty for his fourth, yet another into the Liffey for his fifth, a penalty for his sixth, a shot on to the fairway for his seventh, into the heavy rough by the green for his eighth, a pitch on for his ninth and two putts for his 11. Phew, good job someone was counting.

Bjorn's demons undoubtedly were, even though he had insisted that he had finally banished those little devils that had first appeared two years ago at Sandwich where he had similarly chucked away the Open Championship with three shots in a bunker. Er, hate to tell you this, but they're back, Thomas. And it looks like they have a vengeance. "That was the worst day of my golfing life," he conceded.

If there was one drop of consolation in an ocean of depression for Bjorn then it was in the misery of others who proved how difficult this day of high gusts had been. Going out, there were 12 under par. By the time they were all in, there were just three; only the Clevelander Graeme Storm - who so earned himself a berth in the Open - and Colin Montgomerie joining Ferrie in the red, two behind on one under.

Despite being one of only four out of the 74-strong field to record an under-par round, and despite leaping from a tie for 23rd to a tie for second with his 69, a missed five-footer at the last meant there were few smiles from Montgomerie. Indeed, anything but. After hearing one reporter ask what he considered was a "stupid question", he asked the said journalist into the clubhouse for a word and was soon involved in a heated debate in a broom cupboard. Will he never learn?

EUROPEAN OPEN (Straffan) leading final scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 285 K Ferrie 75 70 70 70. 287 C Montgomerie 73 75 70 69; G Storm 69 71 74 73. 288 D Clarke 69 71 75 73; P Hanson (Swe) 74 72 69 73. 289 B Davis 70 73 75 71; G Murphy 68 76 73 72; T Immelman (SA) 66 76 74 73; J Spence 76 67 73 73; J M Lara (Sp) 70 76 70 73; D McGrane 70 71 74 74; A Coltart 75 68 71 75. 290 N Dougherty 74 70 79 67; L Westwood 73 74 72 71; R Goosen (SA) 67 74 77 72; G McDowell 72 75 70 73; N O'Hern (Aus) 69 74 72 75; R Green (Aus) 72 73 70 75. 291 J Donaldson 69 70 82 70; G Bourdy (Fr) 73 73 74 71; P Hedblom (Swe) 73 70 75 73; B Rumford (Aus) 69 71 75 76; J Lomas 68 72 72 79; R Jacquelin (Fr) 72 70 70 79